Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Free Natural Beauty & Health Projects

As I mentioned in my last post, I started adding groups of tutorials over at Squidoo. I like the pages there because I can list several related recipes or instructions on one page so you can scan for the information you need. Here's a look at what I have so far:


Lip Gloss Recipes

How to Make Perfume

Make Your Own Shampoo

Make Your Own Conditioner

Head Lice Treatments that Really Work

Make Your Own Toothpaste

Bach Flower Remedies

Portuguese Man of War Sting First Aid

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lip Gloss Recipes (and Diaper Ointment)

When I wrote for All Info About, I had a long list of natural lip balm, lip stain, and lip gloss recipes. As much as I love Blogger, it's not the greatest venue for posting recipes, so I started a page over at Squidoo that lists different types of lip gloss recipes. The recipe for a general lip gloss is good for more than your lips though. When my oldest son was born, that balm was a lifesaver as a diaper ointment. It protected his bottom and was (apparently) soothing when he did get a rash. When you think about it, a product that protects and soothes chapped lips is good for other sensitive skin, too.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Remove Moles with Bloodroot

Bloodroot for Skin Conditions

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) paste is a folk remedy used by native North Americans that has been documented as effective for removing moles, warts, and skin tags. When I say 'documented' I mean there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the plant removes these conditions, but I didn't see peer-reviewed studies regarding the effectiveness, safety, or permanence of the treatment. That seems fairly typical for folk remedies, in part because there is no way to standardize the treatment.

The sap from the plant resembles blood. The dried root produces a paste that is gritty and reddish. Bloodroot contains a high level of chemicals called alkaloids. Examples of alkaloids you may be familiar with include caffeine from coffee and salicylic acid from willow bark (precursor of aspirin). While some alkaloids are healthful, some are extremely toxic.

Removing Moles with Bloodroot

After reading about bloodroot, I decided to try it out for myself in a very uncontrolled experiment. Basically, the treatment for moles is to cover the affected area with a damp paste or poultice of bloodroot (sometimes other ingredients are found in commercial preparations), cover the mole/wart/skin tag with a bandage, and let nature take its course. I read the speed of the treatment could be increased by exfoliating the skin with a pumice stone or by scratching it with a sterile needle.

I chose three moles, including two that were raised, and tried it out. The preparation is pretty unattractive, drying to a dark reddish brown, so if you plan to address a skin condition on your face, be aware of this. For two of the moles, I felt a mild burning sensation after applying the poultice. It wasn't unbearable or distracting. After a day, the moles had formed scabs. There was redness in the region surrounding two of the moles as well. For one test area, a scab formed over the entire area that had contacted the poultice, not just the mole.

I read some people think the treatment should be discontinued and the skin allowed to heal as soon as a scab has formed. Others recommend applying the poultice for another day or longer. Several sources say it may take up to 30 days for a mole to be removed. I took the minimalist route and discontinued applying bloodroot as soon as a scab had formed. In my case, two of the moles basically fell off after 48 hours. Both healed with a lightened area around the area where the mole had been. One mole returned, the other did not. The third mole did not form a scab after a day, and I had discontinued treatment to see how the other two would end up.

Does Bloodroot Work?

I think there is some trial-and-error involved in the bloodroot treatment, but I also think it may be a viable alternative to cryotherapy or other surgical techniques to remove a skin condition. In my opinion, it's definitely worth trying, both because it's relatively inexpensive and because you may successfully remove the condition without scarring. On the other hand, I would advise anyone considering trying bloodroot to expect burning and irritation, to realize there is a risk of infection with any treatment (surgical or non-invasive), and that scar formation is a possibility (again, with any treatment), plus there may be reactions to the substances in the plant, including an allergic reaction.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Natural High Blood Pressure Remedies

What Is Hypertension?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the pressure exerted on the body's blood vessels is higher than normal. Normal blood pressure is usually accepted to be a systolic pressure below 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure below 90 mm Hg, depending on age (blood pressure is stated with systolic first and diastolic second, such as '120/80' is a systolic of 120 and a diastolic of 80). The systolic pressure is the force applied when the heart beats, while the diastolic pressure is the resting pressure maintained in the blood vessels between contractions of the heart.

Why Is Management Important?

High blood pressure causes exessive force to be exerted against the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, this can permanently reduce the elasticity of the vessels and make them more susceptible to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Even over a short duration, high blood pressure increases the risk of rupturing one or more vessels, which can cause a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

In 85-90% of cases, a physician will be unable to determine an underlying cause for high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure is termed essential hypertension or primary hypertension. In secondary hypertension, high blood pressure results from a known condition, such as kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, thyroid disease, excessive alcohol intake, or use of certain drugs including oral contraceptives, licorice, and corticosteroids. Essential hypertension probably results from a combination of factors more than from any one cause. Heredity is known to have an effect, as do diet, high cholesterol levels, stress, atherosclerosis, obesity, and diabetes. There is also some evidence that exposure to heavy metals (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium) can promote high blood pressure.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure tends to be asymptomatic until it reaches severe levels. Some of the warning signs of excessive or prolonged hypertension are:
  • dizziness
  • nervousness headache
  • flushed face
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • restlessness
  • insomnia
  • difficulty breathing
  • nose bleed
  • emotional instability
  • intestinal discomfort
Ultimately, the following problems may result from hypertension:
  • kidney failure
  • heart attack
  • stroke

Diagnosing Hypertension

Hypertension isn't diagnosed based on a single high blood pressure measurement. Instead, higher than normal blood pressure needs to be demonstrated over multiple measurements. Causes for the high measurement need to be ruled out. Urine tests, blood tests, and eye exams may be used to help identify the cause of the high blood pressure and to assess tissue damage that may have already occurred.

Natural Hypertension Treatments

  • Diet

    The body requires sufficient calcium, magnesium, and potassium for blood pressure control. Also important is a balance of electrolytes, so the intake of sodium chloride in relationship to calcium, magnesium, and potassium is also important. This is why some physicians recommend limiting salt for persons with hypertension. Calcium-rich foods include milk, cheese, yogurt, fish with bones, greens (e.g., collards, kale), oysters, and molasses. Foods containing magnesium include nuts, rice, bananas, soy, potatoes, wheat germ, kidney beans, lima beans, and molasses.Potassium is found in bananas, broccoli, cantaloupe, asparagus, avocados, honeydew melon, grapefruit, nectarines, oranges, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, green peas, and potatoes. As you can see, some foods contain more than one of these essential nutrients (e.g., molasses, bananas, potatoes). Supplementation with minerals may be helpful if these elements are not obtained through the diet or if medications are used or other conditions exist which interfere with absorption of the elements.

  • Exercise

    If you haven't started exercising, consult with your physician first. Exercise confers many health benefits that can aid in the management and reduction of high blood pressure. Exercise improves circulation, reduces stress, decreases the resting heart rate (a sign of good cardiac health), helps maintain elasticity of blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure.

  • Watch Your Weight

    While being underweight or overweight has an association with cardiac health, the relationship between weight and blood pressure is less clear. Obesity may contribute to high blood pressure, especially in people with a genetic predisposition to hypertension.

  • Don't Smoke

    If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Smoking can elevate blood pressure, in addition to reducing the effectiveness of the pulmonary and circulatory systems in other ways.

  • Don't Overindulge with Alcohol

    If you drink, try to limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 beers, 2 glasses of wine, or 2 ounces of liquor daily. Moderate alcohol use has been linked in some studies to a decrease in heart disease, yet chronic moderate alcohol use is also strongly associated with an increase in blood pressure.

  • Stress Management

    Numerous studies have shown that stress management helps manage blood pressure. Techniques to help manage stress include biofeedback, tai chi, yoga, meditation, qigong, relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, and hypnotherapy.

  • Supplemental Garlic

    Use of supplemental garlic tends to lower blood pressure ~5 to 10%. In addition, garlic can also lower cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels, increase circulation, and inhibit clot formation. A typical dose of garlic is 900 mg of garlic powder per day, standardized to contain 1.3% alliin (12,000 mcg of alliin per day). Garlic thins the blood, so it should not be combined with prescription (e.g., warfarin, pentoxifylline) or natural (e.g., gingko, vitamin E) blood-thinners. It is usually recommended to stop taking garlic weeks prior to and following surgery.

  • Supplemental Hawthorn

    The flowers and berries of the hawthorn plant (Crataegus oxycantha) are used to reduce blood pressure, increase the strength of heart contractions, increase circulation to the heart muscle, and slow the heart rate. The herb generally supports the heart, increases intracellular vitamin C levels, and acts as a mild sedative. Therefore, hawthorn tends to be used for mild cases of hypertension. It is more commonly used to treat coronary artery disease, as it dilates the coronary vessels (those serving the heart). A typical dose of hawthorn is 100 to 300 mg three times a day of a dose standardized to contain about 2 to 3% flavonoids or 18 to 20% procyanidins. Alternatively, a tea may be made using one teaspoon of dried hawthorn herb to one cup of boiling water, administered at the rate of up to two cups per day.Several weeks or months are required for the full effects of hawthorn supplementation to become manifest.

  • Supplemental Vitamin E

    Supplements of vitamin E appear to be effective in helping to manage some cases of mild hypertension. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which may reduce blood pressure by binding to nitric acid in the blood, which has the effect of dilating the blood vessels and decreasing pressure. Other antioxidants may offer similar protection, such as vitamin C. Vitamin E also protects blood vessels from oxidation and damage, so it may deter some of the negative effects of hypertension as well as help alleviate the condition.

  • Supplemental Coenzyme Q10

    Coenzyme Q10, also called ubiquinone or simply Co Q10, is an antioxidant that is synthesized by the body and is obtained in the diet from fish and meat. Deficiency is believed to be associated with a problem in enzyme synthesis and not with diet. Adult levels of supplementation are often 30–90 mg per day, although most of the research on heart conditions involved 90–150 mg of CoQ10 per day. One double blind, placebo-controlled study of 59 men who were taking blood pressure medication found that 120 mg of Co Q10 taken daily for eight weeks reduced blood pressure by ~9%, as compared to placebo. A typical dose of Co Q10 is 30 to 100 mg three times a day. Coenzyme Q regularizes heart rhythm in addition to lowering blood pressure, in part by reducing blood viscosity. Co Q10 may react with or dimish the effectiveness of certain prescription medications.

  • Ayurvedic Medicine

    Avurveda treats hypertension according to a person’s dosha, or constitutional type. High blood pressure is associated more with pitta and kapha types than with vata types. Ayurvedic treatments for hypertension may include use of the herbs sankhapuspi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), a diet low in salt and fat, and yoga focusing on breathing.

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Traditional Chinese medicine associates high blood pressure with problems in circulating the body's qi or energy. For essential hypertension, a combination of acupuncture and herbs may be recommended to balance energy flow, improve diet, and restore emotional balance. Secondary high blood pressure is believed to be due to exhaustion of energy reserves called kidney yin deficiency. The treatment regimen involves rebuilding and maintaining the body's energy. Seek the care of a physician trained in traditional Chinese medicine to explore these treatment options. Here are the ingredients for two common herbal formulas used to treat hypertension:

    Siler and Platycodon Formula (Sang-Feng-Tung-Shen-San):
    Indicated for hypertension accompanied by constipation and obesity.

    • Siler root 3.0 g
    • Talc 3.0 g
    • Skullcap root 2.0 g
    • Licorice root 2.0 g
    • Gypsum 2.0 g
    • Platycodon root (balloon flower) 2.0 g
    • Paichu (White atractylodes rhizome) 2.0 g
    • Rhubarb rhizome 1.5 g
    • Nitrous sulfate 1.5 g
    • Chinese angelica root 1.2 g
    • Ma-Huang (Ephedra) 1.2 g
    • Cnidium 1.2 g
    • Peony root 1.2 g
    • Gardenia fruit 1.2 g
    • Ginger 1.2 g
    • Field mint 1.2 g
    • Forsythia fruit 1.2 g
    • Chinchieh herb (Schizonepeta) 1.2 g

    Rehmannia Formula:
    Most commonly used for older people with hypertension, fatigue, and nephritis or kidney atrophy or nephritis.

    • Chinese foxglove (rehmmania) 8.0 g
    • Yam (dioscorea) 4.0 g
    • Cornus 4.0 g
    • Hoelen 3.0 g
    • Tree peony bark 3.0 g
    • Aconite root 1.0 g
    • Cinnamon bark 1.0 g
    The ingredients in the traditional Chinese formulations are potent and not without potentially dangerous side effects: do not use them except under the advice and care of a physician.

Natural Earache Oil

This easy-to-make herbal oil makes use of the antibacterial properties of garlic and the bacteriostatic properties of mullein to help prevent earaches and to ease the irritation and wax buildup that can accompany them. The formula is safe for children and adults. It should not be used in cases where the eardrum has ruptured. Always consult your healthcare practitioner for severe ear infections.

Tools

  • measuring cups/spoons
  • clean jar with lid
  • blender (optional)
  • strainer or coffee filter
  • dropper
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh or dried mullein flower
  • approximately 1/2 cup (118 ml) of olive oil or almond oil
Directions
  • Crush the garlic clove and break up the mullein flowers. (This could be done in a blender with the oil)
  • Cover the garlic and mullein with oil and blend well.
  • Pour the mixture into a clean jar and seal the jar.
  • Store the jar away from light and heat. Shake the jar daily. The herbs need to be kept submerged under the oil (prevents spoilage), so add more oil as necessary.
  • After 2 weeks, strain the mixture. Discard the herbs. Store the oil in the refrigerator.
  • Use the oil by placing 2-3 drops of the oil into the ear canal. Allow the head to tilt back so that the oil can more easily flow down the ear canal. Massage the back of the ear to help disperse the oil through the ear canal. Repeat as needed.

Natural Cold Remedies

The common cold is the result of a viral infection. The average person catches 2-4 colds a year. While there is no definitive cure for the common cold, there are natural remedies you can take to boost your immune system so you are better able to resist catching a cold. If you catch a cold, there are natural options to reduce its duration and severity.


  • Zinc

    Zinc is believed to reduce the length and severity of a cold, if taken when symptoms first appear. Zinc isn't recommended for long-term supplementation because excess zinc can impair the body's ability to absorb another important metal, copper.


  • Vitamin C

    While present research does not indicate that vitamin C helps prevent getting a cold, it seems to be effective at lessening the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Also, having sufficient vitamin C can help increase resistance against infections in general (supplemental doses don't appear to improve this effect).


  • Astragulus

    Astragulus root has antiviral properties and can help boost the immune system. Astragulus may help protect against getting a cold, but probably won't be helpful once you have a cold. Astragulus is most commonly seen in capsule, tea, or extract form.


  • Honey

    Honey is used to calm coughing and soothe a sore throat. It is believed to work by coating the throat, to ease the irritation. Honey also contains antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. Honey is a popular remedy for children, though it shouldn't be given to children younger than one year of age because of the risk of botulism poisoning.


  • Ginger

    Ginger is a traditional remedy for the coughing and sore throat that can accompany a cold. One of the most popular ways to take ginger is as hot ginger tea, sometimes with honey and lemon. Normal amounts of ginger, as would be found in foods, are tolerated by most people, but you should avoid taking ginger in supplemental quantities if you have gallstones, are taking blood-thinning medications, or will be undergoing surgery.


  • Echinacea

    Echinaecea is taken when cold symptoms first appear. A typical dose would be to take echinacea every two to three hours with a total daily dose of three grams per day for several days. Present research does not indicate the herb statistically reduces the duration or severity of a cold, but it remains a popular remedy.


  • Eucalyptus

    A steam inhalation containing eucalyptus can help thin mucous and provide temporary relief for a sore throat and congestion that can accompany a cold.


  • Garlic

    Garlic has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is mainly taken to boost the immune system to help a person resist getting the cold or flu, though it can help prevent secondary infections if you catch a cold. Raw garlic is considered to be much more effective than cooked or dried garlic.


  • Elderberry

    Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a popular home remedy for sinus infection, colds, and the flu. Elderberry juice has antiviral properties. Elderberry is available as juice, syrup, and in capsules. Only the berries from the plant are edible. Other parts of the plant (including the unripe berries) contain cyanide and are toxic.


  • Ginseng

    The type of ginseng grown in North America (Panax quinquefolius) may help protect you from catching a cold or the flu and may reduce its duration and severity if you contract it. However, ginseng interacts with many other medications, so if you are taking an over-the-counter or prescription drug, it's best to consult your medical professional before trying this remedy.

Natural Acne Remedies

Approximately 80% of female and 90% of male teenagers experience acne. However, acne isn't limited to teenagers. Many adults have acne, too. Acne is affected by factors including hormones, diet, cosmetics, medications, stress, weight, and other health conditions. It's a good idea to see a physician to rule out underlying conditions which may cause acne. Otherwise, there are highly effective natural acne treatments you can try to prevent and cure acne.

Diet


There are two ways foods affect acne. First, certain foods tend to increase susceptibility to immune or sensitivity reactions, which can worsen acne. Examples of common foods which cause reactions in many people are: chocolate, caffeine, seafood and other iodine-rich foods, carbonated beverages, dairy products, and trans-fats. It isn't that these foods cause acne, but they can increase inflammation and sebum production, plus what you eat definitely has an effect on the health of your organs, including your skin.

While some foods may contribute to acne, nutritional deficiencies worsen or cause acne. Insufficient vitamin A (or beta-carotene, from which the body can make vitamin A), zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B6 all are implicated in acne. Some people have success with dietary supplements, but basically you can correct deficiencies by increasing your servings of fruits and vegetables and varying your protein sources. You can experience acne even if you eat a well-balanced diet, but acne is one indicator of malnutrition. Herbs are another way to supply your body with trace nutrients and other healthful compounds. For example, half a teaspoon daily (up to three times of day) of an herbal extract containing equal parts sarsaparilla, yellow dock, burdock, and cleavers may help to support a healthy diet, to prevent and control acne.

Watch What Is on your Skin


You can reduce acne by avoiding skin irritation and by not clogging your pores.
  • Keep your hair off of your face, shoulders, and back.
  • Wash your pillowcase frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Don't squeeze pimples.
  • Avoid wearing make-up or if you do wear make-up, make sure the products are non-comedogenic.

Treat your Skin

  • Over-the-counter products may be highly effective at treating and preventing break-outs.
  • Consider trying a face wash made for acne, but don't overwash your face. Avoid scrubbing. Overwashing or irritating your face will cause it to become inflamed and to produce more sebum.

  • Applying a honey mask (apply honey, let it remain on the face for five minutes, gently rinse it off) may help minimize blemishes. Honey has antibacterial properties, yet is very gentle to the skin.

Try Whole-Body Solutions

  • Massage increases circulation throughout your body, which helps to clear toxins and speeds healing of blemishes, in addition to other benefits.

  • Reduce stress. Consider biofeedback, exercise, yoga, or meditation.

Make Your Own Oatmeal Bath

An oatmeal bath may provide relief for itching and discomfort associated with dry skin, chicken pox, shingles, poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac, eczema, insect bites, diaper rash, anal itching, windburn, and sunburn. You can buy a packet of oatmeal bath for around $6, but it's much less expensive to make yourself, plus it's very easy. Here's how to make an oatmeal bath:

Ingredients


  • 1 cup of oatmeal (about 1/3 cup per bath for babies)
  • blender, food processor, or coffee grinder


You can use any unflavored oatmeal, including instant oatmeal, slow-cooking oats, or quick oats. Blend the oats at the highest setting of your appliance until they are powdered. You can tell you have processed the oats long enough if you stir a little of the powder into a glass of warm water and the results are milky, with a silky feel.


Make an Oatmeal Bath

Sprinkle the oatmeal powder into a tub of running water. Stir the water with your hand to mix it. Break up any clumps you may feel on the bottom of the tub.

Use care getting into and out of the tub. The oats may cause the bottom of the tub to be more slippery than usual. Soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes, then pat yourself dry with a towel. An oatmeal bath may be used once or twice or day, or more often under the advice of your medical practitioner.


Uses for Oatmeal Baths


  • chicken pox
  • shingles
  • poison ivy, oak or sumac
  • nettles
  • dry skin
  • insect bites or stings
  • eczema
  • diaper rash
  • anal itching
  • sunburn
  • windburn

Kapha Tea Recipe

This tea is intended to support and balance the Kapha Ayurvedic type. Kapha types gain balance from engaging in physical activity and avoiding fried or fatty foods, icy drinks, sweets, or excessive amounts of starch. Fresh vegetables are highly beneficial to Kapha types.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

Steep the dry ingredients in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Strain the tea.
Enjoy!

Feng Shui for Better Sleep

Feng shui emphasizes the arrangement of living spaces to make the most of favorable energy flow. Feng shui recommendations tend to result in visually-appealing rooms. Here are some ideas for ways you can organize the furniture in a bedroom to help promote deep, restful sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, try optimizing your space to make it free from distractions, which would include following these ideas for improving your space:

  • Avoid placing your bed in the corner of the room. Positive energy is believed to circulate better in the open spaces of the room, and is more stagnant in the corners.

  • Avoid having the foot of the bed facing a doorway. When in bed, you shouldn't be able to directly see people passing or entering the room. If this isn't possible, it may be helpful to hang a mirror to reflect the doorway.

  • Avoid placing your bed near a window, which can have the effect of draining energy.

  • Avoid arranging the bed so that it faces sharp corners from walls or other pieces of furniture.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Calendula Infused Oil

Oil that has been infused with calendula (Calendula officinalis or pot marigold) is great for treating burns, scrapes, and itchy rashes. The flowers typically are harvested just before they burst into bloom. The infusion is easy to make.

Materials

  • 1-1/2 cups (355 ml) dried calendula flowers
  • 2 cups (474 ml) oil (e.g., olive oil, sunflower oil)

Instructions

  • Process the flowers and oil in a blender until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into a jar, cover the container, and store it in a warm location, out of direct sunlight.
  • Shake the jar once a day for 2-3 weeks. The herbs must be submerged, so add more oil if necessary.
  • Filter the oil using a strainer or cloth. Press the oil from the flowers. Discard the flowers.
  • Store the oil in the refrigerator in a sealed jar.
  • Apply the infused oil as needed to minor skin injuries (not deep lacerations).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Two-Layer Lemon Bath Oil

I love layered bath oils! Here's an easy and tangy two-layered bath oil recipe. The bath oil has a stimulating and refreshing scent. To use, simply shake the bottle to mix the ingredient and pour a small amount into the bath. The layers will reform. Vinegar is used instead of water because no preservative is required. If you wish, you can add a bit of food coloring. It will color the vinegar portion of the mixture.
Yield 1/2 cup
Time 5 Minutes
Tools
  • measuring cups/spoons
  • pretty bottle, preferable tall and thin, with cork or cap
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (e.g., olive, corn, canola)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (choose from white or apple cider, depending on desired color)
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon essential oil (found in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
  • 1/4 tsp. oil of bergamot
Directions Add all of the ingredients to a clean decorative bottle.

Seal and label the bottle.

Shake immediately before use to mix the ingredients and keep the layers even.

Tropical Lip Gloss Recipe

These island ingredients will drench your lips with tropical moisture. The vitamin E is a natural preservative.


Yield - Approximately 1/2 ounce

Time - 5 minutes to make; a bit more time to cool

Tools

  • teaspoon
  • spoon
  • clean container with lid
  • small microwaveable or heat resistant cup or bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa butter, grated
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon macadamia nut oil (may substitute almond oil or olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon light sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon petroleum jelly (optional: use to make gloss more solid or to add more shine)
Directions

Mix all of the ingredients in a cup or bowl.

Rest the container inside of a larger container of very hot (not boiling) water.

Stir the ingredients together until they are melted.

Pour the mixture into a small container with lid (lip gloss containers are commercially available).

Smooth the gloss onto lips, either to be worn alone or to add shine over lipstick.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose and Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine is a substance which occurs naturally in several plants or can be chemically synthesized. It is found in relatively high doses in coffee, some soft drinks (e.g., cola), and a variety of medications. It is also found in lesser amounts in tea and chocolate. Three cups of coffee is considered a moderate dose of caffeine for an adult. However, you can best gauge whether or not you are getting too much caffeine by being on the lookout for symptoms of caffeine overdose. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, you may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours after stopping your intake. Withdrawal symptoms are at their worst 24-48 hours after the last cup of coffee (or other caffeine-containing substance), but can last for a week. For this reason, it's usually better to cut back on caffeine slowly over the space of several days.

Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose

Adults

  • Insomnia or Difficulty Sleeping
  • Muscle Twitches or Spasms
  • Confusion
  • Losing/Regaining Consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Convulsions
  • Increased Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Fever
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Death

Infants

  • Tense Muscles Alternating with Relaxed Muscles
  • Tremors
  • Shock
  • Deep Rapid Breathing
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Death

Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Muscle Stiffness
  • Hot Flashes and/or Chills
  • Headaches

Medical Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore

Most people realize they need to seek immediate medical attention if they are bleeding profusely from an obvious wound or experiencing the chest pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath that can signal a heart attack. However, there are other symptoms that may indicate a serious medical condition, requiring immediate attention:

Sudden Severe Headache

A blindingly severe headache can indicate an aneurysm in the brain - a spot where a weakened blood vessel bulges outward. Treating a blood vessel before it bursts can prevent disability or save your life. A sudden intensely agonizing headache is sufficient reason to seek immediate medical attention.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing weight without a change in your eating or exercise habits can signal a serious underlying medical condition. Similarly, an unexplained ongoing loss of appetite may be a symptom of illness.

Symptoms of a Stroke

People tend to take the classic symptoms of a heart attack more seriously than the often more subtle signs of a stroke. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience slurred speech, tingling, numbness, confusion, paralysis, weakness, and/or burning pain. Early treatment can often prevent permanent damage.

Headache with a Fever and Stiff Neck

These symptoms may indicate meningitis. Quick treatment of bacterial meningitis may save your life and prevent scarring of nervous tissue.

Black Stools

Black stools with a tar-like consistency may indicate bleeding in the stomach or small intestine. It's important to identify the cause of the hemorrhage. Bleeding ulcers and intestinal cancer can cause this symptom.

Men: Lump in the Testicles

A testicular lump can be a symptom of testicular cancer. Even as it is recommended that women perform routine breast self-exams, men should perform periodic exams of their testicles.

Women: Postmenopausal Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding after menopause may signify uterine cancer. The cancer is treatable if it is caught early enough, but many women tend to discount this symptom.

Seek medical attention for these symptoms. Although the symptoms themselves may seem minor, they can indicate a serious illness. A check-up can give you peace of mind or even save your life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bach Flower Remedies

In the 1930's, Dr. Edward Bach used his knowledge of homeopathy to devise a plant-based remedy to treat a particular set of negative feelings. The Bach Flower Remedies are thought to work by stimulating the bodyĆ¢€™s capacity to self-heal and by balancing negative feelings. Remedies are selected which most closely correspond to a person's basic personality type or the particular emotional stress that is being experienced. The Bach Remedies are generally considered to be non-toxic, non-addictive, and safe to use with other medications. Bach flower essences are widely available from suppliers who carry homeopathic or naturopathic remedies.

Flower - Indication

Agrimony - repressed worries, for one who has a cheery outward appearance that conceals internal fears and concerns

Aspen - apprehension, fear of the unknown, anxiety, foreboding

Beech - intolerance, being critical of others, narrow-mindedness, feeling annoyed by others

Centaury - inability to say 'no', trying to please others, easily exploited

Cerato - lack of trust in own decisions, always turning to others for decisions

Cherry Plum - for some compulsions and obsessions, fear of impulsively doing something known to be wrong, impulsiveness

Chestnut Bud - failure to learn from mistakes, destructive patterns of behavior

Chicory - possessive love, needing to be involved in the lives of others, meddling

Clematis - daydreaming, withdrawing into a fantasy world

Crab Apple - feelings of self-hatred, poor self image, shame of physical appearance

Elm - feeling overwhelmed by responsibility, feeling unequal to a task

Gentian - discouraged by a setback, making 'mountains of molehills'

Gorse - hopelessness, despair, feeling nothing can be done

Heather - self-centered, needs to talk about one's self, unhappy when alone

Holly - hatred, jealousy, envy

Honeysuckle - dwelling on the past, expecting to never be happy again

Hornbeam - procrastination, fatigue due to boredom

Impatiens - impatience, irritability with slowness in others

Larch - lack of confidence, expectation of failure

Mimulus - fear of known things or things encountered in everyday life, such as fear of the dark, fear of growing old, etc.

Mustard - gloominess, feeling overshadowed by a cloud

Oak - for one who continues past the point of exhaustion, workaholic, one who continues to fight a battle that cannot be won

Olive - exhaustion following mental or physical effort, lacking vitality

Pine - guilt, perfectionist, dissatisfaction with the efforts of others

Red Chestnut - too much concern for the welfare of loved ones, always anticipating the worst

Rock Rose - fright, terror, extreme fear in the face of an emergency or accident

Rock Water - self-denial, repression, being too hard on oneself

Scleranthus - indecision, mood swings, unable to achieve balance

Star of Bethlehem - shock, refusing to be consoled, for trauma following receipt of bad news or loss

Sweet Chestnut - extreme mental anguish, when it seems no hope remains, when you have reached the limits of your endurance

Vervain - overly enthusiastic, feeling the need to convert others over to your way of thinking

Vine - inflexibility, dominance, domineering, seeming to have too much self-assurance

Walnut - protection from change and unwanted influences, for periods of transition and adjustment to new beginnings, protection from peer pressure and negativity from others

Water Violet - pride, arrogance, for loners who appear aloof, for those who seem unapproachable or distant

White Chestnut - unwanted thoughts and mental arguments, for when the mind replays the same 'broken record' to distraction

Wild Oat - uncertainty over one's direction in life, for feeling lost

Wild Rose - apathy, resignation, accepting what life has in store without an effort to influence it

Willow - self-pity, resentment, for unjust suffering and the feelings that tend to accompany it, for feeling unfortunate

Rescue Remedy - Mix of cherry plum, clematis, impatiens, rock rose and star of Bethlehem, used to help deal with any emergency or stressful event

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Natural Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition characterized by decreased bone density. As the bones lose their mineralization, they become porous. The weakened bones can cause pain, deformation of the skeletal system, and susceptibility to fracture. Osteoporosis can lead to other conditions caused by a lack of minerals normally supplied by the bones.

Osteoporosis affects one in six women and one in eight men over the age of fifty. It is most commonly seen in post-menopausal women. A person's peak bone mass is reached in his or her 20s or 30s. At this age, bones are at their strongest and most dense. Bones are continually being rebuilt, but after this age the body absorbs more minerals from bone than are being replaced. The strategies for avoiding osteoporosis focus on making certain the diet contains sufficient minerals, so that the body won't need to draw on the reserves kept in bones. Another aspect of prevention is to keep stimulating the bones to remineralize themselves.

What Are Osteoporosis Risk Factors?

The more risk factors you have, the greater your tendency to develop osteoporosis. Even if you have many of the risk factors, there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones and minimize loss.

  • Female
  • Age 50 or older
  • Past menopause
  • History of hormonal imbalances
  • Use of certain medications, such as steroids
  • Insufficient calcium in the diet
  • Insufficient vitamin D, either from the diet or processing of sunlight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Very thin
  • 'Small-boned' body frame
  • Caucasian
  • History of fracture
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine consumption (e.g., coffee, colas)
  • Alcohol consumption

    Prevention of Osteoporosis

    The best weapons against development of osteoporosis are a healthy diet and exercise:

    • Exercise


      Weight-bearing exercise induces the bones to rebuild. Examples of weight-bearing excersises include walking, running, dancing, and weight training. Exercises that rely on the body's own natural resistance also help strengthen bones, such as yoga and tai chi. In general, strong muscles require stong bones. Another advantage of exercise is that it helps to promote balance and coordination, which reduces the risk of falling.

    • Calcium

      The body uses calcium in bones for many of its processes, so it's important to make certain that reserves are available. The recommended intake of calcium ranges from1000-1500 mg per day, depending on age, sex, and other factors. Foods that contain calcium include dairy products, such as yogurt; green vegetables; soy products; seafood such as salmon; and sesame seeds.

    • Vitamin D

      Vitamin D is also important for building bone mass, as it aids in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is produced within our skin upon exposure to sunlight and it is also found in foods such as egg yolks, liver, ocean fish, and fortified milk. Daily intake should be approximately 400-800 IU per day, although the amount varies according to sun exposure.

    • Vitamin K

      Vitamin K is also important for healthy bones. Vitamin K is found in green, leafy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, collards, brussels sprouts, spinach). Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation, so persons taking blood thinners should check with their physician before attempting to increase vitamin K levels.

    • Avoiding Risk-Increasing Substances

      You can help to reduce your risk for osteoporosis by avoiding substances that interfere with calcium absorption or demineralize bones directly. Use of carbonated soft drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol all may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis.


    Additional Reading:

  • Natural Remedies for Dark Undereye Circles

    There are many causes that contribute to getting dark circles under your eyes. Some of them are out of your control (genetic predisposition, skin tone), but there are several things you can do to diminish the appearance of dark circles and keep them from worsening.


    • Drink Enough Water
      Dark undereye circles are one of the symptoms of dehydration.


    • Get Enough Sleep
      Insufficient sleep can result in pale skin, which shows blood vessels more than usual. Blue or dark circles can appear.


    • Use Sunscreen
      Sunscreen will help prevent weakening of the skin by the sun's ultraviolet rays, which can help keep dark circles from worsening.


    • Avoid Using too much Salt
      To some extent, salt dehydrates you. This can cause you to retain fluid. When you retain fluid, the blood vessels under the eyes can become engorged, giving you dark circles.


    • Apply Cool Damp Teabags
      Normal tea can temporarily soothe inflammation that can cause dark circles.


    • Try Cool Cucumber Slices
      Apply cool cucumber slices over closed eyes for 15 minutes to reduce swelling and inflammation.


    • Boost Your Diet with Antioxidants
      Foods high in antioxidants can hep strengthen your blood vessels. You can find antioxidants in blueberries, cherries, currants, onions, parsley, cranberries, and legumes.


    • Try a Vitamin K Cream
      Vitamin K can help heal bruising, which can be part of the problem contributing to undereye circles.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Prevent Lyme Disease

    Deer Tick Ixodes scapularis (NOAA)
    If you don't get bitten by a tick, you won't contract Lyme disease. Therefore, the best protection from the disease is to avoid the disease carrier, the deer tick.
    • Avoid Ticks

      Deer ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas, bushy areas, tall grass, and areas with leaf litter. However, they can also be found in lawns and gardens, more commonly at edges of wooded areas and near walls. If you must enter an area that could harbor ticks, stay toward the center of trails. Try to avoid contact with grass, bushes, and leaf litter. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease are most active May through July, though they may be found at other times as well.

    • Dress Appropriately

      • Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, shoes, and socks to help keep ticks off of your skin.
      • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
      • Tie back long hair; consider wearing a hat.
      • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots. Tuck shirts into pants. This will help keep ticks away from skin.
      • Consider taping the area where pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under clothes.

    • Consider Tick Repellent

      You can spray tick repellent on clothes and shoes before entering tick-infested areas. Two common choices are products containing the repellent DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and those containing the repellent/insecticide permethrin. DEET-based repellents may also be applied directly to the skin, to help prevent tick bites. Permethrin should not be applied directly onto skin.

    • Check for Ticks

      Check for ticks at least daily. You should also inspect your pets. The following body areas are common sites of tick bites:

      • armpits
      • back of the knee
      • inside of elbow
      • nape of the neck
      • navel
      • scalp
      • groin

    • Check your Clothes

      Even if your body is free of ticks, your clothes may have acquired them. Ticks can survive quite a long time, waiting for a host, but you can kill them by running clothes through the dryer on high heat for a normal cycle. Normal washing of clothes will not kill ticks.

    Minimizing Risk if you are Bitten

    If you find a tick embedded in your skin, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of contracting Lyme disease. Infected ticks normally cannot begin transmitting the spirochete (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease) until the tick has been attached for about 36-48 hours. If you find a deer tick attached to your skin that has not yet become engorged (swollen with blood), chances are good it hasn't had sufficient time to transmit Lyme disease.

    • Don't Panic

      Only specific types of ticks can carry Lyme disease. Also, not all ticks that can carry the disease actually do carry it.

    • Remove the Tick

      Remove a tick from your skin as soon as you notice it. Use tweezers to grasp the tick very close to where it is attached to the skin. Avoid crushing the tick’s body (if you do, just be sure to clean your skin with soapy water or swab it with alcohol after removal). With a smooth and steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from your skin. Once the tick is removed, clean the skin with warm, soapy water. If you are very concerned that the tick could carry the disease, you could keep it for later inspection. Don't be concerned if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are separated from the tick's body, it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove a tick. These removal methods could actually make the situation worse, causing the tick to excrete or regurgitate bacteria.


    Tick-Proofing your Surroundings

    • Consider Pesticides around your Home

      A pesticide designed to kill ticks called an "acaricide" can reduce tick populations around your home. A single application at the end of May or beginning of June (possibly reapplied in September to control adult ticks) can reduce tick populations as much as 68% to 100%. Timing is important, so check with local health officials about the best time to apply acaricide in your area. If you choose to apply pesticide yourself as opposed to hiring a professional, you will need to check into the regulations regarding pesticide application on residential properties.

    • Landscape to Deter Ticks

      Consider the habits of ticks when planning the landscaping of your yard. Ticks thrive in humid, wooded areas. They tend to avoid sunny, dry areas. There are several steps you can take to make your property less attractive to ticks:


      • Keep your yard free of leaf litter.
      • Clear brush and mow grass.
      • Separate lawns and wooded areas with wood chips or gravel to restrict tick migration.
      • Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
      • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
      • Stack wood in dry areas.
      • Keep recreational yard equipment away from yard edges and trees.

    • Discourage Deer

      Deer ticks aren't found exclusively on deer, but reducing deer populations around your home may reduce their prevalance. To discourage deer from your property:


      • Do not feed deer on your property.
      • Construct barriers such as fencing to discourage deer from entering your property.
      • Plant "deer-resistant" or deer-proof plants.

    • Consider Additional Measures

      • You can install bait boxes that treat wild rodents with acaricide. These devices can reduce the incidence of ticks around homes by more than 50%. The bait boxes do not harm the rodents.
      • If you wish to keep deer near your home, but live in a high-risk area, devices exist for applying topical acaricides to deer.
      • Fungal agents are available for biological control of ticks.
      • There are plants you can include in your landscaping and natural extracts that could be applied around the home or on clothes that safely repel ticks.

    Natural Sunburn Remedies

    Example of a Sunburn (QuinnHK Wikipedia)
    You can get relief from a mild sunburn using natural remedies. A mild sunburn is the type that is red, painful, and may have slight swelling. This type of burn usually heals in 3-7 days, sometimes with peeling and itching.

    Hydrotherapy

    Applying cool, damp towels to a sunburn can help to relieve pain and keep the area hydrated. Baths or showers using cool to lukewarm water also may be beneficial.

    Keep Hydrated

    It's important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Being out in the heat and sun dehydrates the body, even if you don't get burned. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and headaches, which will only make you more miserable.

    Aloe Vera Gel

    Aloe vera gel is the sap from the aloe plant. Aloe is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and to promote healing of a sunburn by helping to keep the skin hydrated. I'm not aware of documentation proving that aloe really helps heal burns better than a placebo, but applying aloe gel that you have kept chilled in the refrigerator, or aloe fresh from a plant, can provide temporary relief from the discomfort of a sunburn.

    Topical Vinegar

    Similarly, a white vinegar compress may help provide some relief from the pain of a burn. You can spritz unbroken skin with a mixture of half water, half white vinegar or apply a compress of diluted white vinegar which has been applied to a chilled clean cloth.
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    Treating Portuguese Man-of War Jellyfish Stings

    Portuguese Man-of-War or Physalia (NOAA)

    First Aid & Treatment for Physalia Jellyfish Stings

    The Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia) can be found in any ocean when the water becomes warm. They are most often seen when strong winds have blown them near or onto the shore. These creatures are characterized by their blue, violet, or pink balloon-like float, which trails clusters of tentacles and polyps. The tentacles, which may extend 165 feet (~50 meters) in length, house the stinging nematocysts. The nematocysts sting upon contact. The man-of-war sting can cause a life-threatening reaction, although this is rare. More commonly, inappropriate first aid worsens the sting from what it would normally be. Many properly-treated stings resolve on their own, sometimes as quickly as 15-20 minutes. That's why it is important to take prompt and proper action in the event of a man-of-war sting. Here's what to do (and not to do):

    Symptoms of Man-of-War and Jellyfish Stings

    First, know your jellyfish! A man-of-war is different from a true jellyfish and both are different from a box jellyfish. If you don't know what caused the sting, carefully lift off any remaining tentacles and rinse with seawater. Don't scrub the area and don't apply any chemical (e.g., vinegar, fresh water, commercial product), as inappropriate use can cause injury or death. Don't make the sting worse. Unless the person has a reaction to the venom, stings heal well on their own. Here are the symptoms of a man-of-war or jellyfish sting:
    • Painful raised red lesions running along the site of tentacle contact (most common symptom)
    • The lesions may become filled with fluid. Sometimes these will heal with pigmentation.
    • Muscle spasms in the affected area
    • Systemic reactions: nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and irregular heart rate (these symptoms are more likely to occur in sensitive individuals or those with extensive stings)

    First Aid for Man-of-War Stings

    • Prevent further stings. Carefully lift off tentacle remnants, using a stick or gloved fingers. Do not rub the tentacles off, as this will cause more nematocysts to sting.
    • Next, rinse the affected area with seawater. Do NOT use fresh water or vinegar, as these may cause the stinging cells to discharge all at once and may greatly worsen the sting! Do not scrub the affected area. [vinegar, papain (as in meat tenderizer), baking soda, urine, or aluminum sulfate all may deactivate the toxin, but they may also cause the stinging cells to discharge all at once, possibly intensifying the injury]
    • Ice may be applied to reduce pain and swelling.
    • Pain can be countered with topical treatment of products containing lidocaine or benzocaine (as in those products used for sunburn).
    • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) cream may be applied for persistent itching.
    • Seek immediate medical attention if the person stung is having any difficulty breathing or maintaining consciousness.
    • Seek medical attention for muscle spasms.
    • Infection is possible, so seek medical attention if the pain persists, the rash worsens, a feeling of overall illness develops, lymph nodes become swollen, a red streak develops between lymph nodes and the sting, or the area becomes hot, red, and tender.
    • It is not uncommon for the sites of man-of-war stings to 'flare up' with irritation periodically for up to 6-8 weeks following the sting. Unless the signs of infection are seen, these symptoms tend to resolve on their own.

    Why Blog About Holistic Medicine?

    Why did I create this blog? I wrote articles for All Info About's Alternative Medicine site until January 2007 when the network was dismantled. I learned a lot... I apply much what I learned personally, like how to treat jellyfish stings and healthy recipes and basic reference information. At present, all of that content is saved on a hard drive. I can still find it, but no one else can. So... here's a blog that will be a home for those features on alternative medicine, plus will include new articles, recipes, and information.

    What Is Holistic Medicine?

    Holistic Medicine is a system of health care that integrates physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of health. You might think of the 'hol-' as 'whole'... the health of a person depends on the balance between all aspects of a person's life. This includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle in addition to more traditional medical factors like genetics and exposure to disease-causing micro-organisms. Holistic medicine can involve complementing traditional medicine with alternative therapies (complementary or alternative medicine).